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Amendment 9

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Lord Rooker:

Moved by Lord Rooker

9: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—“Organising Committee reports(1) The Organising Committee must publish a report on its activities within a year of this section coming into force and annually thereafter.(2) The Organising Committee or, if the Committee is wound up, its successor body or another appropriate body nominated by the Secretary of State, must publish a post-Games report 2 years after the end of the Games.(3) The Organising Committee must publish within 3 months of this section coming into force its policy for communicating with relevant third parties, including—(a) businesses;(b) residents;(c) environmental groups; and(d) local authorities.”

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Labour

On the basis of the Minister’s reply to our first group of amendments, this is purely a probing amendment. All I want him to do—because I do not propose to delay the Committee unnecessarily—is to address the idea that the organising committee should publish reports. It is self-evident that it is well chaired and managed, from what I have heard others who have had direct contact with it say, and therefore it would want to report on what it is doing. It cannot do much about the end of the Games, which is another issue, in subsection (2), but it,

“must publish within 3 months of this section coming into force its policy for communicating with relevant third parties”.

As far as I can tell from the Minister’s answer to the first debate, by and large it is doing it, or has done it or has it planned. Therefore, I do not propose to say anything else but will await the Minister’s response and hope that he confirms the sorts of things he said on the first group. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

My Lords, at this point it might be convenient if I speak to Amendment 10, which could probably have been grouped with Amendment 9, since it deals with very similar issues. It concerns what happens afterwards and requires a report on the success of the Games.

We have enough information in this country now to be able to produce very definitive documents, because in fewer than 20 years we have had three Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, as well as numerous other championships and activities. We have a great pool of knowledge that could be used. Amendment 9 talks about another type of report: this will be something that goes on to look at future strategy and it will be able to be referred to. I know we will have most of this information in other places, and the Minister may be going to say that, but if you bring it into one central point it is much more likely to be used and used easily—assumptions and discussions become easier. That is all this is about, and I am interested to hear the Government’s thinking about this idea.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, if I may be excused the pun, the baton in this relay has been passed to me, although I note that we are not half way around the track yet. I was happy that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, addressed Amendment 10, although I hope he will forgive me if I wait to see who else might speak to that amendment and reply accordingly. I shall keep my remarks on Amendment 9 relatively brief, picking up on the spirit of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker.

Amendment 9 seeks to introduce a number of requirements for the organising committee to report on its activities. I would argue that it is not necessary to list such requirements in the Bill—a point I picked up from the mood of the Committee this afternoon anyway. Unlike the London 2012 or Glasgow 2014 Organising Committees, the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee is a non-departmental public body and is already subject to a number of controls and transparency requirements. In an earlier debate my noble friend Lord Moynihan mentioned the importance of transparency and of course he is absolutely right. To illustrate the point, the organising committee has entered into a management agreement with the department. This sets out the organising committee’s governance structure and, in section 4, the reporting schedule and information which must be sent to DCMS on a regular basis. By regular, I mean monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly and biannual reports or face-to-face meetings between senior figures. A copy of the management agreement is available on GOV.UK. The organising committee must publish an annual report of its activities, together with its audited resource accounts, after the end of each financial year. These must be laid in Parliament and made available online, in accordance with public body guidance. The first report will be published this September, and annually thereafter.

To ensure delivery against these requirements, the organising committee has a dedicated compliance manager and chief legal officer. In addition, DCMS has an official responsible for sponsorship of the OC, to ensure that it meets its assurance and accountability obligations. The Games is also part of the Government’s major projects portfolio and is subject to scrutiny by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which publishes annually on all such projects. The Commonwealth Games will be included in the next annual report, due this month, and a copy will be placed in the Library of both Houses. I remind noble Lords, as was said earlier, that come 27 July 2022 the Games will have been delivered within a four-and-a-half-year window, rather than the typical seven years.

As was mentioned earlier, there is a balance to be struck: we must ensure both that we have transparency and scrutiny of public money and that the organising committee can move at the pace required to deliver a project of this scale to this immovable deadline. I hope I have reassured noble Lords that we already have the right governance, reporting and scrutiny in place to oversee and assure the successful delivery of the Games and to deal effectively with any issues that arise, without further requirements being added to the Bill.

On the question of public engagement, the OC and Birmingham City Council are committed to regular resident and business engagement. Public consultation drop-ins were hosted last month for the Alexander Stadium redevelopment, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, alluded to—it may have been one of those events that he attended—and there is a programme of ongoing monthly Perry Barr resident meetings. The OC has hosted eight regional business briefings, with more than 1,000 representatives attending. Games partners, by which I mean all stakeholders with responsibility for delivering the Games, have also met environmental groups to inform the development of the OC’s Games-wide sustainability plans.

Games partners are already engaging with relevant local authorities on Games plans and the leader of Birmingham City Council and the Mayor of the West Midlands both sit on the strategic board, the most senior decision-making body for the Games. A lead officer group has also been established, bringing together officials from local authorities across the West Midlands. The group will support co-ordination, communication and decision-making in relation to the Games. Further to this, I reassure noble Lords that the Government will carefully consider who will be best placed and how to report on the impact of the Games following the 11 days of sport. It is the Government’s ambition that the positive effects of the Games will be lasting ones for Birmingham and the West Midlands region. I hope that, with that rather detailed response, the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Labour

A perfect response: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 9 withdrawn.